The Great Horror Movie Marathon Day Twenty-Three: Mother’s Day (1980)



Tomorrow is Mother’s Day (right? I think it is, anyway) so I thought, “Hey, why not review Mother’s Day?”


I’m like the Dreamcast; I’m always thinking.


The first thing you should know about Mother’s Day (which is really the only thing I knew going in) is that it is a Troma movie. I don’t know much about the company, or its history, or anything like that, in fact, I’m not ever sure I’d ever seen one of their movies prior to this, but its reputation certainly preceded it. Troma Entertainment, in my mind, is associated with cheesy, low budget horror and sci-fi movies like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and Cannibal! The Musical. Again, I’ve never seen these movies, but I’ve heard of them, and by the time I got to Mother’s Day, I associated Troma with stupid D-list movies.


Mother’s Day, therefore, surprised me.


Mother’s Day follows a group of women who were friends in college as they meet for their annual vacy get together. Every year one gets to pick their destination; this year, one picked camping in the woods. Nice. Nothing bad ever happens in the woods.


Well…something bad happens.


They’re kidnapped by a couple of inbred redneck types and taken to their ramshackle house where their loving, but psychotic, mother watches happily while they commit rape and murder. Two of the friends manage to escape, and formulate a plan to get back at the killers. They return to the house, kill the boys, then their mother, and walk off into the sunset, victorious.


That’s not exactly what happened, but it should have.


Mother’s Day, whether intentionally or by accident, recalled “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” in many ways, not to mention Psycho, because mom. There was plenty of tension (especially when the two surviving friends are creeping through the house and trying to escape without being seen), and the characters were all likeable. The good characters, that is. And that’s mainly because even though they were different (one was a mousy pipsqueak type, the other a fashionista, and the third…I forget, maybe she was outdoorsy?), they loved each other, and that showed through. You actually felt their pain as they tended to their dying friend.


But one thing (and one thing only, come to think of it) sank this battleship: Queenie. Fucking Queenie.


Early on, while the girls are escaping, momma sees something watching her from the woods and flips her top, screaming about someone name “Queenie” coming to kill her (the only Queenie I know is “Little Queenie” by Chuck Berry, and I don’t even know that very well). Later, while one of the brothers is chasing the two escaped friends, the other wants to go help, but mother makes him stay with her, raving about how he needed to protect her from Queenie. Basically, as far as I recall, Queenie was momma’s sister. She was born deformed, or became deformed, or…some damn thing, I don’t know. Basically Queenie was all messed up and tried to kill momma, then fled into the woods. The son she begs to protect her confronts her about Queenie, saying that “grandpa” told him he killed Queenie. Even though dude’s crazy and possibly inbred, he comes to a pretty heavy conclusion: Momma’s making Queenie up to keep her sons close by.


After momma and her boys are killed, our heroines make their way into the woods, and are this close to getting help when a fucked Sasquatch looking thing jumps them. This, apparently, is Queenie, and those were our heroines until Queenie had them for lunch.


Alright. What the fuck? For one, Mother’s Day didn’t need a fucking albino Bigfoot knock-off. It was doing a damn good job as a backwoods slasher/rape and revenge movie. Queenie was not needed, and (I’m speaking for myself here) not wanted. It’s like making a bomb ass…I dunno, chili…and then dumping wood shavings in it. Well, it was good until you just fucking put your ass over it and started dropping turds.


And…I actually liked the characters. They were well done, convincing, and actually developed over the course of the movie. I was rooting for them. I wanted them to win. Then in the last two seconds they get thrown to some dweeb who really had no business being in the movie in the first place.


I’ve seen a lot of good horror movies shoot themselves in the foot by adding elements that just don’t gel, and every time I sadly shake my head. Why? To what purpose? Were they afraid that their meatballs weren’t good enough on their own, so they had to add sprinkles and chocolate frosting to liven them up? You just ruined a good movie for no reason whatsoever.


Up until the last two seconds, Mother’s Day was a good movie. I’ll shout that from the rooftops. It was surprisingly good, and totally subverted my expectations. Then Queenie came along, and disappointed the hell out of me.


Future filmmakers of the world…be careful what you throw in the pot. Chances are, your dish is fine, and the dirty diapers you’re about to drop in just aren’t necessary.

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